Khanh the Killjoy

Really boring liars

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
Once upon a time there were three bears who lived in a wee house in the woods.
Once upon a time there were three billy goats who lived near a bridge.
Once upon a time there were three soldiers, tramping together down the roads after the war.
Once upon a time there were three little pigs.
Once upon a time there were three brothers.
No, this is it. This is the variation I want.

This book has almost no plot. The entire book is about a poor-little-rich-girl living with a poor-little-rich-family with the kind of ending that makes you go "WHAT THE ACTUAL KIND OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN FUCKERY IS THIS?!"

It's not terrible. But there's almost no plot at all. The "Liars" are more "Talkers," and they have almost no relevant role in the book because this book is about a pretentious girl with nothing but #whitegirlproblems and #richpeopleproblems. The aforementioned "Liars" don't do anything in this book, they're not witty, they're not cute, they don't give off the sense of closeness and kinship that you get from growing up with someone their entire life. Hell, they're nowhere near Dead Poets Society kind of interesting.

This is a coming of age, and nothing more. It has
of writing style
that's often choppy
like this. Commas
are sometimes used. And sometimes not. Haphazardly. With no punctuality.
No pun intended.

Sentences are fragmented. The main character sometimes.
Has the tendency to use overwrought, run on metaphors. To describe herself. And her headaches. Such as a helicopter blown by the wind tossed by the torrential rain in the wilds of Alaska felt by a little Eskimo girl during the first whispers of a glacial spring with the scent of violets and hints of lavender in the fields of Grasse.

It was a better coming of age than Catcher in the Rye, but I also thought Twilight was a better coming-of-age than Catcher in the Rye. It wasn't a terrible book. I've read far worse. It's just that the writing style sometimes get on my nerves. The sentences are sometimes written fully, and oftentimes
just goes like
this out of freaking
nowhere. For no freaking.
Reason at all. If that's the kind of thing that bothers you. Then you should probably avoid this book.

The Summary:

MY FULL NAME is Cadence Sinclair Eastman.
I am nearly eighteen.
I used to be blond, but now my hair is black.
I used to be strong, but now I am weak.
I used to be pretty, but now I look sick.
It is true I suffer migraines since my accident.
It is true I do not suffer fools.

Poor little Cadence Sinclair is wealthy. She is loved. She is one of the Sinclairs, a good-looking "old-money Democrat" family, think the Kennedys, without the political aspirations. They have names like Liberty, Taft, and Tipper. They go to Ivy League schools. They have trust funds. They have sired a generation of children, the leader of which is Cadence. Cadence and her crew call themselves "The Liars." The Liars are composed of her cousins Mirren, Johnny, and the outcast "Healthcliff," Indian love interest, Gat.

The Liars supposedly cause trouble. They don't really. They do almost nothing. Cadence herself is sick. She is prone to theatrics, and she is not-so-secretly in love with Gat. She gets headaches. She feels self-pity. She is privileged. She doesn't realize it.

This is the story of a wealthy, beautiful family.

It’s a beautiful night, and we are indeed a beautiful family.
I do not know what changed.

This is the story about a girl's headaches.

Why did I go into the water alone at night?
Where were my clothes?
Did I really have a head injury from the swim, or did something else happen?

This is a story about The Liars. And their spectacularly brilliant conversations for the entire fucking summer.

They have baby oil spread on their bodies. Two bottles of it lie on the grass. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get burned?” I ask.
“I don’t believe in sunblock anymore,” says Johnny.
“He’s decided the scientists are corrupt and the whole sunblock industry is a moneymaking fraud,” says Mirren.
“Have you ever seen sun poisoning?” I ask. “The skin literally bubbles.”
“It’s a dumb idea,” says Mirren. “We’re just bored out of our minds, that’s all.”

They're not the only ones bored out of their mind.

The Writing:

I plunge down,
down to rocky rocky bottom, and
I can see the base of Beechwood Island and
my arms and legs feel numb but my fingers are cold. Slices
of seaweed go past as I fall.
And then I am up again, and breathing.
I’m okay,
my head is okay,
no one needs to cry for me or worry about me.
I am fine,
I am alive.
I swim to shore.

I really have a problem with the writing, but this is just a matter of taste. But then again, I've never been a fan of this type of prose. Needless to say, I don't like e.e. cummings. The writing is so often choppy, haphazardly punctuated. The first-person narrator also has a tendency to use very, very dramatic imagery to describe situations. Some situations are false.

Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
my ears,
my mouth.

That, there, was a description of how she FELT. It confused me as fuck until I realized that she didn't actually get hurt, which made it even more confusing when she did actually hurt herself.

Every time Gat said these things, so casual and truthful, so oblivious—my veins opened. My wrists split. I bled down my palms. I went light-headed.

I thought that was her being overdramatic again, until I realized that the guy was fucking bandaging her up afterwards.

The main character has a huge tendency to use purple prose. She describes her migraines like they were the end of the world, which, I understand to some people they might be, but if you're getting a fucking migraine, there's really no bloody need to get all freaking poetic about it.

A witch has been standing there behind me for some time, waiting for a moment of weakness. She holds an ivory statue of a goose. It is intricately carved. I turn and admire it only for a moment before she swings it with shocking force. It connects, crushing a hole in my forehead. I can feel my bone come loose. The witch swings the statue again and hits above my right ear, smashing my skull. Blow after blow she lands, until tiny flakes of bone litter the bed and mingle with chipped bits of her once-beautiful goose.

That entire passage is one of many throughout the book about her headaches. I just couldn't take it.

The Main Character:

“You’re filled with superiority, aren’t you? You think you understand the world so much better than I do. I’ve heard Gat talking. I’ve seen you eating up his words like ice cream off a spoon. But you haven’t paid bills, you haven’t had a family, owned property, seen the world. You have no idea what you’re talking about, and yet you do nothing but pass judgment.”

Poor-little-rich-girl syndrome. She's beautiful, but wounded, and "mysterious" and revered, just for the sake of her blood alone, for the sake of her family's name alone. Think about it. If you were a Kennedy, it doesn't matter if you look like an elephant stepped on your head when you were born. People are still going to love you and worship you and whisper your name with reverence because you're a motherfucking Kennedy. It's this way with the Sinclairs, only there's no paparazzi following them around. All of the benefits, and no family curse. But somehow Cadence finds a way to be a rebel-without-a-cause anyway.

She's rich. She's hypocritical about her wealth because she criticizes her own fucking family for being wealthy. She does stupid shit like give things away to random people because she can. Before the summer is over, Cadence's room will have been empty because she keeps giving shit away for no fucking reason.

Cadence is unaware of others. She is spoiled. She takes her wealth for granted. She doesn't pay any attention to "the help."

One night, the four of us ate a picnic down on the tiny beach. Steamed clams, potatoes, and sweet corn. The staff made it. I didn’t know their names.

I'm sorry, but I can't sympathize with such a whiny person who's completely unaware of how privileged she is, headaches be damned.

“Who are Ginny and Paulo?”
Gat hits his fist into his palm. “Ginny is the housekeeper. Paulo is the gardener. You don’t know their names and they’ve worked here summer after summer. That’s part of my point.”
My face heats with shame. “I’m sorry.”

The Love Interest:

“You’re saying Granddad thinks you’re Heathcliff?”
“I promise you, he does,” says Gat. “A brute beneath a pleasant surface, betraying his kindness in letting me come to his sheltered island every year—I’ve betrayed him by seducing his Catherine, his Cadence. And my penance is to become the monster he always saw in me.”

Gat is the only interesting character in the book. He is Indian-American. Gat Patil. He is the nephew of her aunt's boyfriend, and they've known each other for years. He is self-aware. Too self-aware in the pretentious way that teenagers can often be, but his character feels authentically teenaged. I liked him. He is accepted into The Liars, but he's not altogether accepted in the family. Because of his skin color, because of his lack of family money, he feels left out. And I can sympathize with him.

“I’m not saying he wants to be the guy who only likes white people,” Gat went on. “He knows he’s not supposed to be that guy. He’s a Democrat, he voted for Obama—but that doesn’t mean he’s comfortable having people of color in his beautiful family.”

Gat is intelligent. Reasonable. Likeable. And I wonder why the fuck he cares about a waste of air like Cadence.